The TDN Kentucky Oaks Top 10 for August 14

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Gamine | Sarah Andrew

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Since the last edition of the TDN’s Kentucky Oaks Top 10, the question has become, “How good is Gamine?” The daughter of Into Mischief followed up her explosive win in the GI Longines Acorn S. with another stellar effort in the GI Longines Test S., which she won geared down and by seven lengths over the talented Venetian Harbor (Munnings). After the defeat, Venetian Harbor part-owner Domenic Savides said it’s unlikely she will contest the Oaks.

That leaves three horses, Gamine, Swiss Skydiver (Daredevil) and Speech (Mr. Speaker), heading the list with a big gap to whoever is No. 4.

The Saratoga meet has also included the GI Coaching Club American Oaks, which was won by Paris Lights (Curlin). She suffered a minor injury afterward and will not be running in the GI Kentucky Oaks. But CCA Oaks runner up Crystal Ball (Malibu Moon) will be headed in that direction.

Last Sunday at Ellis Park, a very promising filly emerged in Mundaye Call (Into Mischief), who set a track record winning the Runhappy Audobon Oaks. But trainer Brad Cox is not ready to stretch her out yet and will keep her at seven furlongs for the GII Eight Belles S. at Churchill Downs Sept. 4.

The Top 10 will no doubt be shuffled around again after this weekend as Swiss Skydiver will head a strong field in the GI Alabama S. at Saratoga.

1) GAMINE (Into MischiefPeggy Jane, by Kafwain)
‘TDN Rising Star’ O-Michael L. Petersen. B-Grace Thoroughbred Holdings LLC (KY). T-Bob Baffert. Sales History: $220,000 yrl ’18 KEESEP; $1,800,000 2yo ’19 FTMMAY. Lifetime Record: MGISW, 4-3-0-0, $363,600.
Last Start: GI Longines Test S., SAR, Aug. 8
Accomplishments: 1st GI Longines Acorn S., BEL, June 20
Next Start: GI Longines Kentucky Oaks, CD, Sept. 4
Equineline PPs. KY Oaks Points: 50.

There’s just one more question left for Gamine to answer. Will she be as dominant in the mile-and-an-eighth, two-turn Kentucky Oaks as she was in the seven-furlong Test and the one-mile Acorn, both races around one turn? If so, it’s hard to imagine anyone beating her. That’s how good she was when winning the Acorn by 18 3/4 lengths and the Test by seven lengths. In the Acorn, she just bulldozed the field from start to finish. The Test was different. Though she led every step of the way, she relaxed early and cruised around the racetrack. The race already won, jockey John Velazquez didn’t need to ask for much in the stretch. That bodes well for the Oaks, where she’ll need to conserve something early in order to have enough left to pack a punch in the stretch. An amazing filly and we might soon be talking about her as one of the best of all time.

2) SWISS SKYDIVER (Daredevil–Expo Gold, by Johannesburg)
O-Peter J Callahan. B-WinStar Farm (KY). T-Kenneth G McPeek. Sales History: $35,000 yrl ’18 KEESEP. Lifetime Record: MGSW, 8-4-2-1, $677,980.
Last Start: 2nd GII Toyota Blue Grass S., KEE, July 11
Next Start: GI Alabama S., SAR, Aug. 15
Equineline PPs. KY Oaks Points: 350.

A Gamine-Swiss Skydiver showdown in the Kentucky Oaks will make for one of the best races of the year. In most any other year, Swiss Skydiver would be the heavy favorite in the Oaks, but as good as she is, she will likely be overshadowed by Gamine, who has been so brilliant. Swiss Skydiver is the horse that always shows up. Aggressively managed by trainer Kenny McPeek, she makes every dance and will do so again this weekend in the Alabama. The Alabama is run at a mile-and-a-quarter, meaning Swiss Skydiver will be in the unusual position of turning back in distance for the Oaks, but don’t expect that to be a problem for a filly who always runs her race, no matter at what track and at what distance or even when facing males in the GII Toyota Blue Grass S. A very good horse and the likely Oaks winner if Gamine can’t back up her performances in the Acorn and Test.

3) SPEECH (Mr SpeakerScribbling Sarah, by Freud)
O-Eclipse Thoroughbred Partners. B-Gail Rice (FL).
T-Michael W. McCarthy. Sales history: $65,000 ylg ’18 OBSWIN; $95,000 RNA ylg ’18 FTKJUL; $190,000 2yo ’19 OBSMAR. Lifetime Record: GISW, 7-2-4-1, $353,840.
Last Start: 1st GI Ashland S., KEE, July 11
Next Start: GI Kentucky Oaks, CD, Sept. 4
Equineline PPs. KY Oaks Points: 160.

Another horse who would have been the favorite in the Oaks in some years but has had the misfortune of coming around at the same time as Gamine and Swiss Skydiver. She’s already lost to both of them, to Gamine in an allowance at Oaklawn and to Swiss Skydiver in the GII Santa Anita Oaks. (Speech was subsequently placed first in the Oaklawn allowance after Gamine tested positive for lidocaine). Unraced since winning the GI Ashland S on July 11, she’ll come into the Oaks off a layoff of nearly two months. That doesn’t mean she can’t win the Oaks, but what is the case for her beating the big two? Has been on a steady work routine for trainer Michael McCarthy, including a bullet five-furlong work on July 29 at Del Mar in 59.60.

4) SHEDARESTHEDEVIL (Daredevil–Starship Warpspeed, by Congrats)
O-Flurry Racing Stables LLC, Qatar Racing Limited & Big Aut Farms. B-WinStar Farm, LLC (KY). T-Brad Cox. Sales History: $100,000 wlg ’17 KEENOV; $20,000 RNA yrl ’18 KEESEP; $280,000 2yo ’19 KEENOV. Lifetime Record: MGSW, 9-4-2-2, $501,768.
Last Start: 1st GIII Indiana Oaks, IND, July 8
Next Start: GI Longines Kentucky Oaks, CD, Sept. 4
Equineline PPs. KY Oaks Points: 90.

Trainer Brad Cox has done a nice job managing this filly, picking out spots where she can win and build confidence. After his filly finished a distant third in the Fantasy, he could have chosen races like the Ashland, the GI Coaching Club American Oaks or the Alabama. Instead, she showed up in an allowance at Churchill and then the GIII Indiana Oaks. She won both impressively, but obviously didn’t meet the caliber of fillies she will face in the Kentucky Oaks. She’s already lost to Swiss Skydiver–by 13 1/4 lengths in the Fantasy–so there are questions if she is good enough to win on the first Friday in September. Will definitely have to improve.

5) HARVEY’S LIL GOIL (American PharoahGloria S, by Tapit)
O-Estate of Harvey A. Clarke & Paul Braverman. B-Harvey A. Clarke (KY). T-Bill Mott. Lifetime Record: GSW, 5-3-0-0, $96,600.
Last Start: 1st GIII Regret S., CD, June 27
Next Start: GI Alabama S., SAR, Aug. 15
Equineline PPs. KY Oaks Points: 10.

After a long absence she makes her way back into the Oaks Top 10. A daughter of American Pharoah, she’s had an up-and-down career. After an easy and impressive win in the Busanda S. at Aqueduct in February, she looked to have the stuff to become one of the leaders of her division. That changed with an 11th-place finish in the GIII Fantasy S. Trainer Bill Mott then switched her to the grass and she woke up, winning the GIII Regret S. at Churchill Downs. Is she better on the grass? Her Hall of Fame trainer obviously isn’t sure. He could have run “Harvey” in Sunday’s Saratoga Oaks on the grass, where she would have been one of the favorites. Instead, he will take on Swiss Skydiver in the Alabama. No matter how it turns out, the confidence Mott is showing in the filly by giving her another crack at the dirt is telling.

6) SPICE IS NICE (CurlinDame Dorothy, by Bernardini)
‘TDN Rising Star’ O-Lawana L. & Robert E. Low. B-B. Flay Thoroughbreds LLC (KY). T-Todd Pletcher. Sales History: $1,050,000 Ylg ’18 KEESEP. Lifetime Record: GSP, 4-2-1-0, $106,080.
Last Start: 1st Alw/Opt. Clm., BEL, July 3
Next Start: GI Alabama S., SAR, Aug. 15
Equineline PPs. KY Oaks Points: 20.

Like Gamine, Spice is Nice went for seven figures at the sales. A $1.05 million yearling purchase at Keeneland September, she hasn’t quite yet lived up to her big price tag, but it looks like she eventually will. After finishing second in the GII Davona Dale S., she stubbed her toe when fifth to Swiss Skydiver in the GII Gulfstream Park Oaks. Trainer Todd Pletcher went back to the drawing board, gave her three months off and then got an impressive win in a July 3 allowance at Belmont. With the filly back on track, we’ll find out what she’s made of when she goes in the Alabama.

7) CRYSTAL BALL (Malibu Moon–Deja Vu, by Giant’s Causeway)
O-WinStar Stablemates Racing LLC. B-Peter E Blum Thoroughbreds (KY). T-Bob Baffert: Sales History: $335,000 Ylg ’18 KEESEP; $750,000 2yo ’19 FTFMAR. Lifetime Record: 3-1-1-1, $106,000.
Last Start: 2nd GI CCA Oaks, SAR, July 18
Next Start: GI Alabama S., SAR, Aug. 15
Equineline PPs. KY Oaks Points: 40.

Bob Baffert’s other 3-year-old filly. The Coaching Club may not have had the strongest of fields, but Crystal Ball did more than enough to prove she belongs in the Kentucky Oaks. A $750,000 purchase at the 2019 Fasig-Tipton Florida sale, she didn’t make her debut until May 17, after the regularly scheduled date for the Oaks. After a maiden win, she jumped into Grade I company in her third lifetime start and lost by just a head when second behind Paris Lights in the Coaching Club. Can only get better.

8) HOPEFUL GROWTH (TapitureMaiden America, by Rock Hard Ten)
O-St Elias Stable. B-Phillips Racing Partnership (KY). T-Anthony Margotta Jr. Sales History: $160,000 Ylg ’18 KEESEP. Lifetime Record: GSW, 5-3-1-0, $183,240.
Last Start: 1st GIII Monmouth Oaks, MTH, Aug. 1
Next Start: GI Longines Kentucky Oaks, CD , Sept. 4
Equineline PPs. KY Oaks Points: 50.

She earned her way into the Kentucky Oaks with a surprising win in the GIII Monmouth Oaks. Trained by Tony Margotta, Jr. and owned by St. Elias Stable, she seemed to be going nowhere after finishing a lackluster fifth in her stakes debut in the GIII Delaware Oaks. But she bounced back with a four-length win at Monmouth, for which she added blinkers.

9) ENVOUTANTE (Uncle MoEnchante, by Bluegrass Cat)
O-Walking L Thoroughbreds LLC & Three Chimneys Farm;
B-Jumping Jack Racing LLC (KY); T-Ken McPeek. Sales history: $250,000 Ylg ’18 KEESEP. Lifetime Record: GISP, 6-2-1-2, $125,748.
Last Start: 3rd GI Ashland S., KEE, July 11.
Next Start: GI Alabama S., SAR, Aug. 15.
Equineline PPs. KY Oaks Points: 20

Trainer Kenny McPeek has been high on this filly for a while. When asked about the Alabama, he told the TDN’s Mike Kane, “It wouldn’t surprise me if she upset my other filly (Swiss Skydiver).” The question is can Evoutante can live up to McPeek’s expectations. She didn’t break her maiden until April and later won an allowance and finished third in the Ashland. She will need to do more to win the Alabama, but we likely haven’t seen the best of her yet.

10) TONALIST’S SHAPE (TonalistHitechnoweenie, by Harlan’s Holiday)
O-Slam Dunk Racing, Doug Branham & Legacy Ranch, Inc. B-Sabana Farm (KY). T-Saffie Joseph, Jr. Sales History: $45,000 RNA yrl ’18 KEESEP; $60,000 RNA 2yo ’19 OBSAPR. Lifetime Record: MGSW, 8-6-0-0, $378,425.
Last Start: 4th GI CCA Oaks, SAR, July 18
Next Start: GI Longines Kentucky Oaks, CD, Sept. 4
Equineline PPs. KY Oaks Points: 70.

It looked like a fourth-place finish in the Coaching Club American Oaks might have knocked Tonalist’s Shape out of the picture for the Kentucky Oaks, but trainer Saffie Joaspeh Jr. is going to forge ahead with his filly. Joseph put blinkers on for the Coaching Club and believes that is why his filly performed below expectations. They will come off for the Kentucky Oaks. “I’m not going to let that race distract us. If all is well, we’re going to stay on plan. She’s earned a spot in the Oaks,” he said.

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